Surrey RCMP responded to the scene of a fatal shooting in South Surrey in the early morning hours of Sept. 6, 2019. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Surrey RCMP responded to the scene of a fatal shooting in South Surrey in the early morning hours of Sept. 6, 2019. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Senior receives seven-year sentence for South Surrey shooting

George Murray Bragg found guilty of manslaughter in 2019 death of Richard Duncan

A senior found guilty of manslaughter in a 2019 South Surrey shooting has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

George Murray Bragg, 77, was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on July 12 in the death of former roommate Richard Wayne Duncan, 46.

On May 7, in a jury trial, Bragg was acquitted of first degree murder, but found guilty of manslaughter.

In his reasons for sentencing, Justice Murray Blok said he had to weigh Crown arguments that the crime was at the “near murder” end of the manslaughter spectrum, against defence counsel arguments that it was nearer to “self-defence.”

Police responded to an emergency call to a house in the 1600-block of 160 Street around 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 6, 2019, and found Duncan, still alive, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was taken to hospital where he later died.

READ ALSO: Senior on trial for 2019 fatal South Surrey shooting

Bragg, then 74, and his son Mark were taken into custody at the scene, but later released. Following further investigation, Bragg was arrested on June 1, 2020 and charged with first-degree murder.

Summarizing the case, Blok said that all three men had “fallen on somewhat hard times” and had decided to rent the house together in February of 2019.

Blok said that both Braggs had testified that Duncan, described as “Mark’s acquaintance,” had “an unpredictable and hair-trigger temper”.

In the months they lived together, they testified, Duncan had been “threatening and abusing them frequently, even daily, and punctuating some of his outbursts by punching holes in walls or doors or doing other damage to property.”

On Sept. 5 an early evening dispute over rent money culminated in Duncan threatening extreme physical violence against both the Braggs at midnight, a threat the Braggs said he repeated loudly outside the doors of their rooms at various points in the evening.

According to his testimony and other retrieved evidence, George Bragg loaded his legally-owned eight-shot revolver with .22 magnum ammunition, telling his son through text messages that he was ready to shoot Duncan if he started to act on his threats.

Bragg testified that, at midnight, Duncan announced “it’s killing time.”

Confronting Duncan, he testified, he warned him to stop. When the warning was ignored Bragg began to shoot at Duncan, hitting him with all eight bullets.

Blok said in his judgment that he had to weigh numerous facts, including that the offence had included preparation and planning on Bragg’s part, that he had loaded his weapon with more lethal than usual ammunition, that he had concealed the gun from Duncan’s view, giving him no chance to “flee or withdraw from the situation,” and that he had waited 30 to 40 minutes after the shooting before calling for medical assistance.

He said he also took into account Bragg’s advanced age, that he had led a “pro-social” life and had no criminal record, and that he and his son had endured “constant threats” for months – balancing this against statements from “distraught” members of Duncan’s family.

Although the Crown was asking for a sentence of 10 years and defence counsel was asking for only three, Blok said he believed seven years was appropriate (usual range of sentences in manslaughter cases is between four and 15 years, he noted).

“I accept that Mr. Duncan’s words and actions in the months leading up to the incident were frequently violent, threatening and unpredictable, and I accept that he made a specific threat of significant physical harm to both Braggs on the evening in question,” Blok said.

“On that basis, I agree that there are elements of self‑defence in Mr. Bragg’s actions, but I do not accept that this is a case of ‘near self‑defence,’” he added.

“Mr. Bragg had hours to pursue other options, which included the obvious option of calling the police and enlisting their assistance. Although Mr. Bragg’s misguided belief that he had no viable options short of lethal force attenuates his moral culpability, it does not bring this matter to one of ‘near self‑defence’,” he said.

– with files from Tracy Holmes

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